I first saw the Compañía Nacional de Danza (CND) at the Royal Opera House in Madrid in 2007 when I was studying all things Spanish. I saw Artistic Director, Nacho Duato perform Alas, a stunning vision of heaven. The following October, I was lucky enough to see CND again when they came to New York to perform dark pieces about the castrati and drug addiction at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. As an added bonus, Nacho spoke about his work following the piece. It was awesome.
Then, I stumbled upon a performance by the Compañía Nacional de Danza 2 – the junior company – performing Nacho’s first work and others at NYU’s Skirball Center. I obviously jumped at the chance. The performance which included Jardi Tancat, 1983, L’Amoroso, 2004, and Gnawa, 2005 celebrated the 20 year tenure that Nacho had at CND 1990 – 2010. He is now the director of the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia.
To describe the work of Nacho Duato, I refer to the expert, Claudia La Rocco of the New York Times. She explains that “the sweep of Mr. Duato’s lush style, which combines a balletic vocabulary with modern dance’s sense of weight, as well as an overlay of strange little gestures and twitches. His dancers are something to watch: articulate, yet quick to attack. They are almost too good, in a way, or too seamless. The movement flows through them without meeting any distinguishing idiosyncrasy, and it could use that sort of distinction, something to keep the gorged eye from becoming jaded.”
Though the three works were so different in theme and style, they were stunning and evidently Nacho. Jardi Tancat had a soft sharpness to it with its orange floor and earthiness. L’Amoroso had a modern and somewhat political view at royal court dancing as the dancers skating and shuffled across the floor with beautiful partnering. And Gwana had an intense physicality with its North African style and was somewhat reminiscent of Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun with a nymph at its center.
All in all, Nacho’s choreography is stunning and intense and I wish I had more opportunity to see it in NYC.